Crystal Mountain returns to local owner. (Crystal Mountain/Facebook)
In an era of consolidation, Crystal Mountain is going against the grain, as its longtime CEO has purchased the largest resort in Washington state from Boyne Resorts.
John Kircher, who has been CEO and president at Crystal for 20 years, said he will immediately invest $5 million into upgrading the mid- and lower-mountain snowmaking capabilities at the 2,600-acre ski and snowboard area.
“Crystal will go into the 2017/18 season with snowmaking capabilities on the mountain unmatched anywhere else in the region,” Kircher said.
In addition, the resort has ordered eight new gondola cars for the Mount Rainier Gondola that runs from the base to the 6,870-foot summit to increase capacity by more than 20 percent.
Other changes for the 2017-18 season will include extending some holiday and peak hours, and add new lighting on the Quicksilver novice slope to give skiers and snowboarders more time on the slopes that sit in the shadow of Mount Rainier.
“We should see Crystal reach its full potential in the next five to 10 years,” Anderson said.
The local purchase of the mountain, which is set to close April 23 this season, comes as consolidation in the winter resort business has dominated headlines. In March, a partnership based in Aspen purchased six Intrawest properties and four California resorts including Mammoth Mountain.
The move by Aspen Ski Corp. and KSL Capital Partners is seen as a challenge to Vail Resorts’ two-decade effort to bring 14 worldwide resorts under its ownership.
“(Local ownership) runs totally counter to the corporatization trends in the ski business,” said Kircher, who helped Boyne Resorts build its portfolio. “The number of large resorts that are locally owned and managed can be counted on maybe one hand. It’s a small fraction of the business. Crystal has done very well over time, and now we are free to reinvest our dollars with complete concentration here.”